The mission of the Water Section of the PUC is to achieve a regulatory environment that provides safe, reliable, and quality water services to water utility customers on just and reasonable terms. The Section serves the public interest by balancing the needs of customers and utility service providers in the following areas of responsibility:
Maintaining water rates as low as possible for residential and business consumers of water companies consistent with minimum standards of service, safety, economic viability, and the environment.
Providing customers of water utilities with reliable, up-to-date, responsive, safe, and timely water service.
Ensuring that Colorado water providers earn a return sufficient for their long-term economic viability and their ability to update their physical plant or equipment to provide reliable, safe services essential to Colorado consumers.
This Section accomplishes its mission by issuing authorities to operate, establishing industry rate standards, initiating enforcement and compliance activities, and assisting consumers with complaints and educational efforts.
- Issuing Authorities to Operate
Not all water utilities in Colorado are subject to Commission oversight. The Commission does not regulate municipal systems including Water Districts or Water and Sanitation Districts. Water utilities regulated by the Commission must apply for and receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to operate in Colorado. Issuing and updating CPCNs increases public confidence in the companies authorized to provide water services in the state. This promotes financially healthy companies who will stay in business and provide a high level of service to their customers. The PUC provides oversight over entry and exit from the Colorado market with the goal of protecting customers and assuring that companies provide service to customers on a non-discriminatory basis.
- Establishing Industry Rate and Service Standards
The PUC approves rates for services provided by investor-owned water companies. The Section reviews requests by these water utilities for rate changes to ensure that financial, engineering, legal, and economic requirements are met. The Commission considers and implements, where consistent with the public interest, alternatives to standard rate-of-return regulation for these companies. In addition, the Section assists the PUC Commissioners in establishing standards to initiate and maintain service and equipment to a level necessary to promote the comfort and convenience of the customers served by these companies.
- Initiating Enforcement and Compliance Activities
The Section ensures compliance with state statutes, with Commission decisions and rules, and takes enforcement action to correct non-compliance, as appropriate. A variety of tools are available to obtain compliance. These tools include desk and field audits of financial and service records, inspections of facilities and equipment, complaint investigation, show-cause actions, revocation action, and court actions intended to force compliance. Each of these tools involves due process intended to protect the rights of the regulated service provider as well as allowing input from other affected parties. Due process may include warning letters, notices of proposed action, opportunities to respond to allegations, mediation, settlement negotiations, evidentiary hearings, right to appeal decisions before the Commission, and appellate review of all final Commission decisions.
- Assisting Consumers with Complaints and Education
The Section responds to inquiries from a variety of sources on the full range of water issues. These activities include response to general inquiries from individual citizens, the General Assembly, the Governor's office, other federal, state, and local government officials, industry professionals, utility service providers, attorneys, and investment firms.